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Of Priors and of Disconnects: How 'Chicago' Premises Risk Distortion

15 Pages Posted: 29 May 2014 Last revised: 28 Aug 2014

Margaret Jane Radin

University of Michigan Law School

Date Written: May 28, 2014


This essay is a response to Professor Michelle E. Boardman’s piece, 127 Harv. L. Rev. 1967 (2014), reviewing my book, Boilerplate: The Fine Print, Vanishing Rights, and the Rule of Law (Princeton 2013). I argue for the perhaps self-evident proposition that intellectual preconceptions (“priors”) can skew one’s understanding of a text, and in particular, that “Chicago” priors apparently make it difficult to parse critique. In this essay I describe “Chicago” priors, then use examples to argue that these priors led Boardman not only to misinterpret the major thrust of Boilerplate but also to misunderstand many of its details. I suggest that these priors, which are common in contemporary American legal thought, distort and obscure central issues relating to contemporary contract theory and practice.

Suggested Citation

Radin, Margaret Jane, Of Priors and of Disconnects: How 'Chicago' Premises Risk Distortion (May 28, 2014). Harvard Law Review Forum, Vol. 127, p. 259, 2014; U of Michigan Law & Econ Research Paper No. 14-014; U of Michigan Public Law Research Paper No. 414. Available at SSRN:

Margaret Jane Radin (Contact Author)

University of Michigan Law School ( email )

625 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-1215
United States
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